Posted by: Brenda Kula | August 3, 2008

Creating A Certified Wildlife Habitat


I have been toying with the idea of seeing if I fulfill the requirements for certifying my yard as a natural wildlife habitat. So yesterday I decided to get on board. You can check into this and fill out an application at The National Wildlife Federation website. You pay an application fee of $15, and then you’ll receive the following:

~A personalized certificate that recognizes your NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat (I did order a special sign for my yard, which cost me an additional $25.)

~A free NWF membership which includes a full year’s subscription to the award-winning National Wildlife magazine.

~A free subscription to the quarterly e-newsletter, Habitat, full of insightful tips and information on gardening and attracting wildlife year after year.

~Your name listed in NWF’s National registry of certified habitats…to recognize all you’ve done for wildlife.


Here are the requirements:

~Food sources. For example: Native plants, seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, nectar

~Water sources: For example: Birdbath, pond, water garden, stream

~Places for cover. For example: Thicket, rockpile, birdhouse

~Places to raise young. For example: Dense shrubs, vegetation, nesting box, pond

~Sustainable gardening. For example: Mulch, compost, rain garden, chemical-free fertilizer


There will be an online questionnaire to fill out, and you can get started. Believe me, if I can live one block from the busiest street in town and do it, you can too! This is your commitment to wildlife conservation and the environment. My sign will arrive in about six weeks. And hopefully it will inspire other neighbors to follow suit, and turn the entire neighborhood into a "wild-life friendly" zone.


I hear all around me the sounds of heavy machinery making way for even more shopping centers, residential neighborhoods, and the like. I hate to see the wildlife slowly but surely being driven out, to no homes left at all. So now you know you can do something about this growing dilemma. And it isn’t even hard! You likely already have the components necessary, as I did.


I can’t for the life of me get my birdbath to sit up straight, but I doubt the birds mind a bit, as long as I keep fresh water in it.


You can have a pretty yard, and at the same time provide for those little creatures of nature.


I don’t just want wildlife to visit, I want them to find a home here.



Over the next year, I am going to try hard to get plants grouped together that need the same water requirements, such as sedums versus annuals. I will seek out more native plants, and try and purchase those that will attract these beautiful creatures to my yard in abundance.


I have plenty of birdhouses, but need to ensure that before the springtime birds come to nest, I have their nesting areas clean and already waiting for them.

I don’t use pesticides. Goodness, my dogs would be poisoned too, most likely! And the good thing here is, if you set up your environment adequately, nature will do it’s best to keep your yard free of what you don’t want in it. Tommy the Toad does his part, I know.


You can keep mosquitoes at bay with "running" water, versus "still" water. If you’re worried about your birdbath attracting them, you can purchase little water wigglers that discourage them. Mosquitoes will not lay eggs in moving water.

I have a problem with ants, so I just looked up ways via the internet for more natural ways to deter them. This website suggested using cinnamon. It even said they used water and cinnamon combined to squirt between cracks in bricks, etc., and found this to be quite helpful. You can be sure I will be out there today with my little jar of cinnamon to see if this works!

Clyde is my rodent deterrent. Sometimes he does his job, sometimes he doesn’t. When he does, I know it, because he brings his dead bounty up to the front door, seeking praise.


You can have little sitting areas, with shrubs (these are azaleas) behind them.


Tommy the Toad lives below in this little area of ground cover.



You can have a gazebo, and entertain. And live peacefully with wildlife. It doesn’t require acres and acres of land. Just some little spots for them to call their own, just as you and I need for ourselves.


Provide some areas where they can hide from predators.




Ground cover is nice for wee creatures. (Like garden fairies!)


You can still have spots to sit down and eat a sandwich with neighbors.



I invite you to join me in embracing this growing concept. The National Wildlife Federation website has so much useful information for creating and maintaining your own certified wildlife habitat.


  1. I have often thought of doing the same thing, so now you have given me that little push that I needed so I’m going to do my application today! xo, suzy

  2. What a thoughtful idea! I haven’t used pesticides in years, for the sake of the kitties, geckos and ladybugs (and probably a lot of other beneficial creatures I don’t even know). There’s always water and a place to rest for my little friends, too. Maybe I will check out the website and see what else I need to “do the right thing”. Thanks for the lovely photos, too. The blue glass birdbath is lovely!

  3. Brenda,
    I love your garden! I don’t know if I would qualify, but yours is an inspires me to try!
    Great post and idea!

  4. I’ve thought about this as well. I’m pretty sure I’d qualify too, especially if I put in that pond I keep toying with. Your garden is beautiful too. Thanks for the information!

  5. I’m going to apply too while I still have some trees standing.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen your cute little frog that is spitting water. I love that and any tour of your garden.


  6. excellent idea Brenda! My yard would qualify without changing a thing.

    I love your gazebo! I remember reading about and seeing it in an earlier post. It looks like such a relaxing summer haven.

    You’ve demonstrated with this post how an backyard can be wildlife- and people-friendly at the same time.

  7. Thanks for posting the link, I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile. Your garden is very lovely and the creatures probably appreciate all the amendities you have provided for them. 🙂

  8. what a super idea, I just don’t have any mature trees in our yard as we are a new subdivison (5 years)

    I put up another two bird boxes up this year, and will do a couple of other things that was suggested.

    You have a lovely garden,


  9. I love this Brenda! I’m so impressed. The pictures are fantastic. I can’t believe how much you have going on in your yard!

    In a couple of hours, I’m tagging you on my blog.

  10. Good evening, Brenda. I just read your blog, and I was very impressed. Thank you for sharing with all of us about the Wildlife Federation. Kudos to you!


  11. What a wonderful habitat you have created for family and wildlife. Good Job 🙂

  12. What a wonderful habitat you have created for family and wildlife. Good Job 🙂

  13. What a wonderful habitat you have created for family and wildlife. Good Job 🙂

  14. What you’re doing is so cool! Do you have a regular-sized residential yard, or a large acreage? Oh, and I have a birdbath that always stands crooked, too! Jill

  15. Brenda, what a great post. This is a wonderful way to enjoy and share your garden.


  16. Brenda your beautiful garden is abound with life! It overflows with a welcoming energy to attract wildlife!You are truly inspiring!
    I planned on certifying my own garden this year but time got away from me but you have now put the bug in my ear once again! Thank you for this. I appreciated your generous comment on my last post!hugs NG

  17. What an awesome thing to do! We have lots of little critters in our yard, too. One of my greatest delights is to find that a bird is nesting in our yard. We watched a Cardinal nest in a Ficus just outside the kitchen window, and we saw a nest of baby Wrens fledge. I felt like it was a gift from God.

  18. Brenda your garden is GORGEOUS ! girl : ) … I would have thought you would naturally be certified by just looking at it .. I love all the nooks and crannies .. the pond is just what I would love .. the gravel paths .. everything is what I LOVE too ! .. and .. we have two birdbaths one in the back and one in the front .. the front one is like an antique metal and do you think I can get that sucker level either ? NO .. it drives me batty !
    Amazing garden Brenda .. well done girl !

  19. Congratulations, Brenda. It is great that you took this step. We have been members of NWF for years but have never registered our garden. Thanks for the push to do so.

    Always Growing

  20. How beautiful! I don’t know what would be more enjoyable – watching the plants grow or the critters that your yard attracts.

    Thank you for sharing.


  21. Hi Brenda, Your garden is lovely & what a great post! We do need to think about all the critters in our yards & try to offer them a haven in the midst of their shrinking world.
    Because we have so many plants & trees in our yard there are a great number of birds & all kinds of insects. We laugh about it but it’s also entertaining.
    Way to go, Hugs DebraK

    ps, how’s the tiered white server working out?

  22. Your garden is indeed a ‘Piece of Paradise’, Brenda. The fruits of your labor and love are evident. A most lovely and informative post …

  23. Brenda– thanks so much for sharing this info. I learn from your posts all manner of things that help me. It isn’t all that hard to have habitat for the critters– I did it for a pair of salamanders without even knowing it. You encourage me further. Thanks!

  24. I’m so glad you posted this suggestion. I’ve been maintaining our own certified habitat for years now and LOVE IT!

    I’m also glad you posted about the cinnamon trick for ants. I’d never heard of that before and I’m going to try it now.


  25. THAT IS SO COOL, Brenda! I always feel at home every time you share photos of your lovely garden.

    Great job!

  26. Your yard is so beautiful! Every time I put birdseed out, I not only get birds but rats! I guess that where your kitty comes in handy.

  27. LOVE to tour your garden! Do your plants not know its August? Everything is so green and lush. Come on Fall!

  28. Hi Brenda, I started to apply for that one time but realizing I had a cat, thought it might disqualify me. I didn’t want to encourage birdies to come when I had a cat hanging around but I see you have a cat so maybe I’ll rethink that. Have a super great week. ~ Lynn

  29. Very cool Brenda! I’ve heard the cinnamon thing really works. It is what they used at the organic farm we visited in St. Croix.

  30. Oh Brenda what a lovely backyard and wildlife sanctuary you have–I can picture myself there, looking at the frogs, fingering your garden ornaments, searching here and there, in amusement; like a child! Just lovely!

    Can hardly wait to see your new garden sign….:)



  31. Hi Brenda,
    This is such a neat post, it’s great you’re doing all these amazing things for the creatures among us. Does Clyde leave Tommy the Toad alone? Or does Tommy just hide when Clyde’s out?

    Looking forward to seeing your sign in a few weeks and thanks for the tip – I’m definitely trying the cinnamon and water in our backyard!

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